Day 283/365 Personal Power

This past week I have been thinking a lot about power.

I’ve written about the idea – no, the fact – that life is unpredictable, and how we are sometimes faced with the unexpected. I have also written about how, despite that, it seems important to stay optimisticto not be afraid to make plans for the future.

It occurred to me that those of us who have been knocked down quite a bit begin to feel powerless, and that can take quite a toll on our self-esteem and our ambitions. I think it takes a while to build our depleted resources back up…

To find our power.

So where do we start? I think the best place to start is to ask ourselves some pretty simple questions….

What am I doing regularly that makes me feel good about myself?

(Hey, here’s a thought….how about doing more of that?)

What am I doing regularly that makes me feel bad about myself?

(Umm….?)

Then maybe some more complicated ones…

If resources (namely silly little things like time and money) were not an issue, what would you most like to accomplish? 

(Great, now….how can we make this happen?)

What can you start doing now that will give you some momentum toward your dreams?

Putting some of this self-reflection into practice, I have garnered some personal power this week by setting some five-year career goals. I have also identified things that I wish to delegate (see ya, Quickbooks), and things for which I would like make more room….writing, yoga, community-building…

I can’t remember the last time I felt really powerful, but I think making decisions that point me away from things I find draining, and toward things that make me feel good about myself – my mind, my body, my heart...

That feels like a great start.

There may be a lot I cannot control, but there is also a lot I can. 

 

 

 

Day 234/365 Did You Ever Know?

“Did you ever know you were so strong?” he asked, tenderly (or was it…admiringly?). I could imagine him, grinning and shaking his head in mock disbelief.

After an emotionally draining weekend, I felt anything but strong. His words brought me to tears. I know crying makes him uncomfortable, so I fought against them. I tried to calm the tremor in my voice that would give me away…to hide how profoundly and deeply those words from my (ex) father in law had touched me.

Did you ever know you were so strong?

When he called I was walking through the woods, thinking about the last few years – the last year and a half especially. It is incredible how much has happened.  In my mind I was trying to rationalize my depression (Why am I still here in this painful place?).  I know I don’t need to rationalize it, but there I was nonetheless, making a mental list of all of the things that have happened that have weakened me – Everything that was causing me to feel so broken.

Did you ever know you were so strong?

His words reminded me that these things that have happened – they have not weakened me. They have not broken me. These turbulent times have forced me to keep rising up, over and over.  I have survived them all. I will keep surviving. I will keep growing stronger.

Did you ever know you were so strong?

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Day 221/365 My Dear, You Had the Power All Along

One of the qualities I appreciate most about myself is vulnerability. It is also the quality that causes me the most emotional disharmony within myself.

It is both my superpower and my kryptonite.

I would define vulnerability as a willingness to authentically share one’s thoughts and feelings.

When I risk being seen as I really am; when I am honest about how I really feel and what I really want…I feel empowered. When I allow myself to be completely vulnerable to others…sometimes I even feel a high. 

The shadow side of it is…

Sometimes, after that barefoot rush of vulnerability…I feel foolish…or even ashamed. There’s nowhere to hide once I’ve pulled back the curtain.

Did I go too far?

Did I reveal too much?

Am I unlovable?

These dual edges of vulnerability are challenging…and also, fascinating. I aspire to get to a place from which I can be and say whatever I want, and never feel the sting of insecurity.

OZ, perhaps? Shall I ask the wizard for vulnerability without remorse?

{My Dear, you had the power all along…}

Oh, to be able to stand in my vulnerability and to have the strength to not hold my breath in anticipation of the repercussions, reactions, and self-doubt.

To place my offering of truth before you and to know that it is worthy.

Period.

I recognize this is hard work. Perhaps the hardest work. For the actual definition of vulnerability is this….

1 : easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally

2 : open to attack, harm, or damage

Who would choose this as a way to exist in the world?

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Here’s the truth…

The reason it is so hard to be authentically vulnerable is because it is terrifying. There’s no doubt that is why I get a high from it – like cliff jumping or sky diving – it feels dangerous to be honest…to put myself out there and to risk that I will be rejected.

BUT…

The freedom in that sweet spot of truth is powerful, and addicting…despite the risks.

Because…

That is where we truly connect…within our center of vulnerability…within our hearts.

The more we reveal our true selves, the more we understand each other.

It really is that simple.

With special thanks to Monica Rodgers, who always helps me see the light when I feel overwhelmed by the shadows, and for always seeing the best in me, especially when I cannot.

Day 178/365 Melissa

I’ve been wanting to write about Melissa for a while, but knowing she is a very private person, I have been reluctant to shine a spotlight on her.

Well, let me clarify – she is the kind of person who will not hesitate to tell you in detail her most embarrassing experiences if they might bring a laugh, but she will rarely bring attention to herself in a way that isn’t self-deprecating.

She is one of the most modest people I know. She is also incredibly protective of the people she loves. Her heart is enormous, and fierce.

Today I pulled out my checkbook to pay a bill, and I noticed the date –

September 11th

As I always do on this date, I thought of Melissa…and somehow I felt as though I wanted to honor her today…and so I hope I can do that in a way that feels like a tribute and not an intrusion…

Because Melissa is truly my personal idol when it comes to grace and strength.

Melissa lost her brother in the World Trade Center attack.  I’ll never forget the panicked call from her that morning…the fear, and the agony of uncertainty…and then the unimaginable confirmation of their worst fears.

Within two years Melissa lost her brother, Richard, and then her father. During that time of fresh grief she became a mother twice over.  I can only image the strength it took to navigate all of that, emotionally…the births and the losses…the tragedies and the miracles.

More very painful losses came for Melissa and her family. Through it all she has remained an unwavering pillar of strength and love.

She astounds me.

Melissa and her husband, Jaime, now have four beautiful children. They are amazing parents.  They have prided themselves on their active role in community life, both holding jobs in public service. They love people, and their gregarious personalities are a draw to all. They are the kind of people who make other people feel good about themselves. That is a gift.

Jaime and Melissa have a relationship I have always admired. Their love and devotion to each other is never in question. I so appreciate the way they make each other (and everyone else) laugh, and how they clearly respect and appreciate each other. They are true partners in life. I love being in their company – they bring joy.

Almost two years ago, Jaime was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It has been a rough road, but miraculously, he continues to heal. Through it all, Melissa has been remarkably brave and optimistic, and whenever possible, she continues to insert her humor.

She is just a powerhouse of personal strength.

Recently she and I caught up over dinner, and  I keep thinking about something she said.  She said, “You know, I am just really looking forward to boredom. Seriously, it will be wonderful when life just gets dull.

So many things we take for granted…right down to the seeming minutia of our daily lives. What an amazing reminder to treasure it all…even, and maybe especially, the boring bits.

Melissa, you truly inspire me.